In the midst of allegations of sexual misconduct against him, former President George H.W. Bush apologized for the acts in a statement.
The statement, issued by a spokesman October 25, acknowledged that the 93-year-old often touches the lower waist of people because he’s confined to a wheelchair. In addition, it stated that “to try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.”
The statement comes a few days after Hollywood and Broadway actress Heather Lind accused Bush of sexual assault. She said that he touched her inappropriately from his wheelchair while he told her the suggestive joke in front of his wife, Barbara. Lind wrote in an Instagram post that the alleged incident occurred four years ago.
An hour after Bush’s office released the statement, another woman came forward with similar sexual assault allegations against the him. Actress Jordana Grolnick told her story to Deadspin, saying her story is “entirely similar” to the one Lind shared.
Grolnick said that last year, while working on the production of Hunchback of Notre Dame in Maine, Bush came and caught a performance of the play. During an intermission, Grolnick said Bush went backstage and greeted the cast, who quickly gathered around him for a photo. As the group of actors and actresses formed a half-circle around Bush, Grolnick said Bush “reached his right hand around to my behind.” As the group smiled for the photo, Grolnick said he offered to tell the group a sexually suggestive joke.
“Do you want to know who my favorite magician is?” Grolnick accuses Bush of saying before he “dug his hand” into her buttocks. “David Cop-a-Feel!”
The joke is a play on words to legendary magician David Copperfield. She told Deadspin that the group “laughed” at the joke, and the former First Lady seemed to defend it with a joke of her own to break the discomfort in the backstage area.
“He’s going to get himself put into jail!” Grolnick claims Barbara said of her husband.
Grolnick’s story is almost the exact situation Lind described in her social media post.
“He told me a dirty joke,” she wrote. “And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again. Barbara rolled her eyes as if to say ‘not again.'”
The “joke” is something that others had previously reported on Twitter years ago. They claim he said it during a “ladies luncheon.”
Grolnick said she told friends and family of the incident afterward, all who believed her. It was the recent outpouring of sexual misconduct allegations in entertainment and media that allowed her to speak out and share her story, she said.
“I don’t want to belittle Heather Lind for feeling violated,” Grolnick told the news outlet. “Now that the #metoo movement has brought this all to light, I think I should have been a little more alarmed to be touched so inappropriately by a man who was once the leader of the free world. He knows the power he has, and the reverence he deserves, even while sitting perhaps somewhat senile in a wheelchair. ”